I’ve spent the last few weeks obsessing about Telecasters ad nauseum. Analyzing the Fender/Squier lineup. Thinking about tonewoods, finishes, construction, pick-up options and pricing. Writing overlong and far too complicated geek out blog posts on these topics that went on and on and on. Posts that I know not even my wife has read. Posts with tables of data. Utter bollocks most of it I’m sure.
I’ve also spent far more time blogging than playing. That is— as my three year old daughter will shortly learn to say – “whack”.
As part of my geek out Project Telecaster research I started frequenting the excellent TDPRI forums last week. Asking questions, seeking answers from the Casterati. As well as getting some very useful technical advice, I received some deeper words of wisdom from several posters there. This quote from a poster with the handle boris bubbanov sums up what a few people were saying:
….this (research) process is incidental, or it should be. I discover things while I play and that’s not really research. I’m too busy playing (or posting!) to do research.
A person with over 20,000 posts on a Telecaster fan forum was telling me to get a life. Amen to that!
So I decided I needed to get in the game. I made up my mind that I would go and buy the cheapest Tele I could find that wasn’t a complete dog. My mouth dried and my palms began to sweat. I knew what was happening. I was entering the initial stages of Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). By George, I would have my Hammer of The Honky Tonk Gods!
Cautiously, while trying not to betray my growing mania, I began floating the idea to my wife. I tried to pick the best moment I could. I believe one kid was asleep, the other glued to Caillou on Netflix. I’d just done the dishes. All was calm. I cleared my throat and broached the subject as casually as I could, but my voice may have squeaked, just a little.
After a brief interrogation I got the go ahead to spend “around $200”, provided I made sure I got a good deal. I cackled inwardly to myself and the GAS fever grew. Lightheaded and with a dry mouth, I hit Craigslist.
But as usual, there were few used Teles available on-line in my area and I still had the GAS gnawing at my bones. It was late Saturday night and I was GASing bad. I continued to scour the listings.
And then I saw it. A good looking guitar according to the pictures. Out of production for a a couple of years, but sold for $429 when new, with recent eBay auctions closing at $369, $399 and forum posters talking about the $225 – $295 range from Craigslist without a case.
And here was one listed on Craigslist for $275 in “excellent condition” and with a hardshell case included. It seemed very promising.
Only one problem. It wasn’t a Tele, not even close. Instead it was one of these:
That’s right. A jazz box. A really jazzy jazz box at that, with a spruce top and a rosewood bridge for an extra-warm, extra-jazzy, Wes Montgomery sitting-by-his-fireplace-on-Christmas-Eve sound, man. A fully hollow-bodied archtop acoustic-electric with humbuckers.
In a word; “Nice.”
The next evening I visited the seller, inspected the goods, liked what I found and bought the guitar, getting the whole package for $225 (price reduction due to some intonation problems that I was later able to work out how to fix). It’s a Chinese-made Ibanez Artcore AK85 DVS and I think it’s just great. It plays as a nice low volume acoustic (won’t wake the family) and those humbuckers should make it nice and quiet for GarageBand sessions. Overall the quality seems better than the Epiphone Dots and Dot Studios I’ve played in stores and on par with the Sheratons and Casinos. Although of course this guitar lacks the resonance block inside that makes those guitars ‘semi’ hollow. It seems to be based more on the Gibson ES175.
I have done little research or comparison to other guitars. Between finding it on Craigslist and taking it home there was less than 24 hours. There has been no geek-out post on jazz boxes (yet). I plan on playing it a lot. I may even need to dust off my 7th chords and start trying to figure out modal harmony for the umpteenth time. To start off with I will keep it in stock condition, but in the future I could look at changing the bridge and tailpiece for something with more of a blues bite. I could even put on a Bigsby-type vibrato unit.
So there you go. I was looking for a Telecaster, but ended up filling that Gibson ES335 guitarchetype hole in my collection instead. Life really is a (jazz) box of chocolates.
The GAS has subsided, at least for now, but I haven’t given up on the Tele, I’ll come back to that project later in the year.
What I really need next is an amp…